At first glance, Tarique Afaque could pass for a regular guy, with a regular job and a regular life. Nothing about his appearance suggests of the maverick that he is. Maybe that’s his humility. We decided to catch a few moments with him, which wasn’t easy considering how busy he’s been off late; organizing the 2015 version of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Delhi, to find out what got him here and what are his plans for his riding group “The Royal Mavericks”
So how did a civil engineer from Aligarh, working for a Multi-national; end up a Maverick on two wheels? Was is the first bike that did it?
Hmm..that’s an interesting question. I think it was my dad’s yezdi. The image of my dad riding the yezdi never left my mind. On certain lazy afternoons, I used to flick my dad’s bike keys, and liberate myself from the constraints of childhood. From there, it was purely love for these two-wheeled machines. It was never really about the ease of transport, although that’s certainly a plus, or passion even. It’s something much deeper and profound than that.
How would you define yourself as a biker? We would love to know about your riding style - do you ride solo or in groups?
Look, I don’t know if I’m gonna call myself a biker, that’s a tad too strong for my taste. I’m more of a bike aficionado. I share a very personal relationship with my Barbie (As Tarique likes to refer to his Royal Enfield). So for instance if I wanna get some lone time with my ‘Barbie’, I would go for a solo ride. It’s all about letting myself free and connecting with my bike. my relationship with her has grown deeper and deeper with each passing ride. And she makes sure I get home safe. I actually think she talks to me. A lot of times when there is some mechanical issue that needs to be brought to my attention, my Barbie would do that from the very first thump and thud.
Riding in groups is a completely different ball game altogether. and I must say I enjoy that too. However here, you’re not just responsible for yourself but also for the others you’re leading in the group. It becomes your duty not only to ensure a memorable experience, but a safe one too.
We know bikers like to push the limits. But as bikers often do find out, sometimes the limits push back. What has been your most challenging and memorable trip in that sense?
I think it has to be riding through the tough terrains of Ladakh and Spiti Valley. Those places push both the man and the machine to the limits of their existence. A lot of times I felt as if my bike would give up, but we kept pushing through and always made home safe. Reaching the Khardungla top, the supposed highest motor able pass in the world along with my group is something I can never forget, but you know, every terrain teaches you a different lesson, which not only helps you become a better rider, but also a better human being. And in that sense, every ride is special.
But enough about me, let’s talk about something else…I thought you were here for the DGR 2015.
Sure, we notice that Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has occupied both your mind and your table at the moment. So how did that happen? and more importantly what should we expect this year?
Royal Mavericks is more than a Biking Group. We’re not just about breakfast rides. We try to get involved with the deeper issues of the society, give back to the social community and like to lead by example.
It all started with the idea of wanting to change the whole club-riding scene in India from quaint breakfast rides into something more meaningful and passion-filled.
Then in 2012, we heard about DGR Sydney, and everything changed from thereon.
This was just the kind of opportunity we were looking for. A chance to give to the biking community in India something that they never had before. A chance to be put on the world map of Biking Scene. Because let’s admit, despite having a large number of two wheeler riders in our country, it has always been more of a need based venture as opposed to passion driven, which is exactly the case in most of the western countries.
This was our chance to infuse some passion into the biking community and also some discipline. And everybody knows we need more of the latter on our roads for sure.
The whole concept is very unique. We tend to take rides as liberating and in the break free spirit, and tend to get carried away. But for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride you need to ensure absolute discipline not only in terms of the attire, but also in terms of safety checks, riding patterns, and even the noise of the muzzler. No breaking of any rule is allowed, however that, I must say; has always been our motto at Royal Mavericks. It’s for this reason that DGR falls perfectly into our profile to the tee.
and how has the experience been so far?
Hosting an international event and matching their standards was a difficult job at first. Moreover, DGR has very strict guidelines to be followed before and after taking over the responsibility of the event. But all we had was an undying passion, to give to the biking community something that they had never witnessed before. As we moved ahead, people started to join and we found the needed support and encouragement from all corners of the country. Our first DGR in Delhi was a dream come true. Becoming the official host of an international event of this proportion was huge for us.
2013 DGR was focused on making people aware of the DGR concept and the complexities of Prostate Cancer. The ride started from the Fio Restaurant and Bar, at Garden of Five Senses, and we rode to Radisson Blu, Mahipalpur. More then 100 bikes took part in it.
Ever since then, each year we’ve tried to outdo ourselves. In the second year the determination took over the enthusiasm. we had set a benchmark in 2013 and in 2014 we had an already established reputation to live up to. We knew we had to make it bigger and better. We analysed the 2013 event and worked on our shortcomings. In 2014 we focused on online donations and raised the highest mark in Asia Pacific region. Participation almost doubled and we rode from Fio, Nehru Place to Leela Ambiance, Gurgoan.
As a tradition we end the Delhi DGR with a grand ceremony where we give a vote of thanks to our supporters as well as the selfless voluntary work our members put in to make this event shine. We also have various categories of “Distinguished” prizes to be given at the end of the event.
And what are we looking at, for 2015? Give us a brief about the Plan for 27th September.
The 2015 DGR holds a photo-booth by world acclaimed, Manav Parhawk Photography. Finest professional videography by Raja bhai and drone shooting by the exceptionally talented Vikram Chaudhary from Hoverbirds.in. This time the team is well equipped for setting the stage for a fun-filled, memorable day, with interesting photo-ops., Ball room dances and hilarious candid photography by Shamim Akhter. DJ Shail will be setting the groove on Romanian music. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Although we’re a Royal Enfield Specific bunch, during the day of the event, we allow bobbers, choppers and all sorts of Vintage bikes along with scooters and Lambretas to ride with us, so it’s going to be a treat for any true lover of these beauties. HMCI (Heritage Motoring Club Of India) is on board, with all their Vintage collection of motorcycles. We have 10 Triumph motorcycles for the ride so YES a lucky few will get to ride on their dream machines too. Ride will be concluded by National Anthem. And there will certainly be a few surprises too. Just to make the day more special for all the participants.
We are working day and night to give Delhi the most stylish motorcycling event it has ever witnessed and I am glad that my team #TeamMavericks is leaving no stone unturned to achieve it. It would be difficult to explain everything though. All I can say is, come and experience it for yourself.
Let’s talk a little about Royal Mavericks. How did that happen?
I’m afraid you’ll soon regret asking that question, cause I can’t seem to stop talking about Royal Mavericks. For the past 3 years I’ve been rearing it as my child. It kinda happened gradually. I used to ride with several different groups, but always felt the lack of warmth and camaraderie within those groups.
Quite often I found that it was more about wannabe, negligent maturity of vision, show-off, touch and go hazardous activities (which they called fun) than brotherhood. That pained me deeply, as I always felt motorcycling was a serious art form, and needs to be taken seriously. People just used to ride, eat and leave.
My intentions were to change the outlook of the biking community, from being tagged law breakers and rowdies to something more of a positive social influence. Through Royal Mavericks we try to give a positive direction to the energy our youth has. Spread awareness about social issues and lend a helping hand wherever and howsoever we can.
In our rides we don’t allow anything which is against the traffic rules, be it speed helmets, loud silencers, fancy number plates or not having rear view mirrors etc. In the past, we were criticized for these rules, but now they are our identity and all the Mavericks are proud of it.
People now inquire about our norms before joining in and make the required changes in their bikes to be a part of our community. That’s definitely something to take pride in.
You do seem to like being a Royal Maverick a lot. You guys have been pretty active in the motorcycling scene, tell us something about your achievements so far.
There have been quite a few actually, and I’m not even counting DGR, which is a pretty big one for us. I’m glad that the group has reached a certain level where Royal Enfield themselves felt obliged to recognize us as Royal Enfield Riders group in their fortnightly magazine “The Beat.”
The entire vibe of the group is very positive and we have members from various quarters of life who belong to different age groups, but when they come to the ride, they leave all their identities behind and the only identity that remains with everybody is being a Maverick. This positivity has encouraged us to get associated with social causes and show the society that a constructive thinking can be applied almost anywhere.
From encouraging people to vote and keep Delhi clean to DGR, where we are not just generating funds for prostate Cancer cure research, but also making people aware of the threat and encouraging them to stop being shy or scared and get themselves diagnosed. I have got myself diagnosed for Prostate to lead by example. That is our focus for this years’ DGR.
Another achievement of ours that I would like to mention, has been our ability to redefine the Biking scene in this country. Give the riders a sense of camaraderie. Every ride creates new life long friendships, and our list of mutual friends keeps growing by the day. It’s a very beautiful feeling. Knowing you’re directly responsible for creating so many life long relationships between people, and bring them closer.
We recently received a call from Discovery International and later MaverickTV from UK, as they wanted to shoot a motorcycling group documentary here in India,
which will go live in December 2015 on their channel. In fact I asked them why Royal Mavericks, when their are so many other groups out there.? The answer I received from them is something I can’t share on record. After the Shoot the Discovery guys gifted all the participants with their official Discovery Channel T-shirts with our logo at the back.
We also received some interests from a Danish production house that wanted to make a TV commercial on Royal Enfield for a Dutch Enfield dealer.
As of June 2015, we’ve started with our UK wing as Royal Mavericks - Manchester Royal Enfield Riders group. Poland, Milan, Goa, and Berlin are in the pipeline.
We’re also pushing forward to take DGR to Bombay and Lucknow this year. DGR is one of our attempts to build a healthy culture for bikers and give them an opportunity where they can break the stereotype attached to a biker. The cause which is associated with the DGR, also gives it another dimension. It is directly associated with a man’s health and his well being and it is never about one life. A death effects the entire clan. I guess that’s another reason why DGR has received tremendous support from our female Counterparts as well.
What if you walked out of this building and found a million dollars tax free, gifted to you by a secret angel, no questions asked. Where should we expect to see you headed? and more importantly what’s your ride?
I’d be on my way to circling the globe, taking the exit road towards Pakistan and entering through Bhutan. The Ride has to be either an APRILIA MANA 850 GT or Benelli TNT R.
Any messages for our fellow riders out there, any parting thoughts?
Yes indeed. I see a new group pop up on Facebook everyday, and I want to say, that heading a group is way bigger than just Facebook. My first message is for Group admins, and especially with whom we had some arguments recently over safety concerns. It’s a lot of responsibility, and you’re responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone in the group. One shouldn’t be lured by the seemingly enormous power and influence of a group and get carried away into throwing traffic and safety rules for a toss. Be very mindful, when you’re out there, you’re representing all the motorcyclists of the world. So act responsibly.
I have a similar message for our fellow riders as well. Life is a beautiful thing, and ought not to be risked over cheap thrills and carelessness.
Plan things out, invest without second thought in safety gears, don’t get emotional, be mindful of the weather conditions. Please follow All Gear All Time at all possible times.
Lastly, Don’t waste money on crazy modifications, like sharp pointed handle bars (they can hurt you or others in case of crash), fancy number plates and loud silencers (are just waste of money, and wont do any good to you).
Your riding is for your own pleasure, not to seek attention of others. Enjoy SELFISM.
Ride United - Ride Safe!
We will be riding with Tarique,The Royal Mavericks and other Gentlefolks at the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride in Delhi this Sunday. Here's a flavor from the 2014 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Delhi.
If you would like to join us register on the DGR website.
If you would like to follow The Royal Mavericks, check out their Facebook Page.